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The best big American cities

It’s Friday, I don’t particularly have anything to say that hasn’t been said before (oil spill bad, fare hikes better than death spiral, yay streetcars), and having just been out of town, other cities are fresh in my mind. So what they heck, here is my completely subjective list of best American cities. Everybody loves meaningless lists right? Right.

My top five, in order:

  1. New York. On the scale of urbanism it just blows everything else in the country away. Really, there’s no other option for #1.
  2. San Francisco. The second densest city and the most beautiful landscape. It’s just too bad they don’t have a better subway.
  3. Washington. Yes yes, we are a self-loathing city and it’s not supposed to be acceptable to think Washington is so great, but have you seen the rest of the country? We have the best transit outside New York, awesome neighborhoods, great architecture… I’m not afraid to admit that I love DC.
  4. Boston. So similar to DC, and better in some ways (we don’t have anything like the North End), but also so much uglier. Boston is a paradise for brutalism.
  5. Chicago. The first time I visited Chicago I was expecting another Manhattan, and the Loop didn’t measure up. Cool skyscrapers, but that New York activity level just wasn’t there. I was disappointed. Regardless, Chicago is still one big hunk of awesome, and if I didn’t have a particular love for the more European layouts of Boston and DC, I might be tempted to rank Chicago 3rd.

Honorable mentions: Philadelphia (a clear #6 IMO), Seattle and Portland (I haven’t yet visited but hear good things), Pittsburgh (too bad it isn’t larger). Plus the litany of good smaller cities like Madison and Savannah, but they really belong in a different topic.

What do you think?

May 14th, 2010 | Permalink
Tags: fun, in general, top10



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